Saturday, November 29, 2008

Do Unto Others...

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you..."
Well, that's easy to do when it comes to family. And today a little bit of that is goin' on.
Theresa had surgery the day we drove here. She wanted us to come, and we thought it would be a good chance to not only get together, but also to help her out a bit while she's recovering.
SOOOO, Thanksgiving is officially over, and we are decorating her house for Christmas! A couple years ago Lou Anne had surgery, and we surprised her by decorating the house while she was in the hospital. Last year Theresa helped me get mine decorated while she was hanging out with me during the funeral and for a few days after. And now, here we are decorating her house for her!
It looks beautiful! Yeah!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks in Alabama

Well, here I sit in Theresa's kitchen, blogging about our Thanksgiving celebration 2008. We drove on Wednesday and arrived at 1:30am. Thursday Lou Anne and I spent the day cooking, cleaning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning again. It was very festive and fun. The highlight of the day was Selah's homemade from scratch pumpkin pie. We brought 2 pumpkins with us from home. None of us had made "the real deal" pumpkin pie before, so we gave it a go. We baked the pumpkin, made the puree, I made a homemade crust, and we baked the pie. It seemed like a LOT of work, but in the end, it was worth it! Next time, however, I would make the puree one day, the crust another day, and then on the holiday put it together. When Selah said she wanted to make a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin, I thought it would be fun and yummy. And it was! Great idea Selah! Even those in the family who don't usually eat pumpkin pie thought it was dee-lish!!!

We miss Andrew and Joy :( Wish they would have been able to make it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Time Last Year, #4

The day before Thanksgiving. I was surprised she died so soon. 12 days after we found out she had cancer again. Selah went to the hospital with me that last evening. We said goodnight and goodbye to Mom. Selah held her hand and said goodnight too. She had been unresponsive for a couple days. Her body was shutting down. She hadn't eaten. Her breaths were very raspy. She really had to work hard to get a breath, and when we left the hospital that evening the nurse was showing Dad how to suction the foam that was kind-of starting to form in her mouth. I really struggled seeing her like this. I don't handle that stuff very well. I hate to admit this, but honestly I was kind-of glad I had the excuse of having a little kids at home, and needing to leave to be with them.
My youngest brother Daniel, on the other hand, was amazing. He never left her side. Right to the end. He and Dad were there when she took her last breaths. Actually, Daniel was up with Mom, suctioning her mouth every 15 minutes or so. He noticed her breathing pattern change suddenly, so he woke Dad up. They watched her take her last 2 breaths. Daniel was always her favorite. We all joked about that. He was the baby, and they had a special bond. I will say that I can only hope one of my kids will care for me in the end the way he did for her. He did and saw things a son shouldn't have to. What a guy. I know she was glad he was there. There were times she would wake up and ask where Daniel was... wanting to make sure he was nearby.
Dad called our house about 5:30am and said "Mom's gone." "She is?" I said. Alan and I got a neighbor to come over and sit with the kids, and we rushed to the hospital. I had never seen a dead body before. She looked like she was sleeping. She was still warm. I even had to touch her arm and lift it a bit to make it real for me.
All in all, I have to say, other than being raptured, this was the way she wanted to go. She wanted it to be quick and painless (I mean, don't we all). She dealt with pain with the bone cancer, but she did not have the debilitating, slow, sad, end to her life. That weekend before she even joked saying "You know I've always said I didn't want to get old!"
It was way too soon, but it happened in a way that was peaceful for her, so for that I can find a reason to be thankful. She died the day before Thanksgiving. There are many reasons I could think of to be thankful for the woman she was, the mom she was, and the impacts she had on the lives of so many people. Most of all, I'm thankful that (largely because of who she was) have the hope of being together again some day. Of that I am most thankful.

"Heaven... is a sweeter place. For once I've knelt before the good Lord, I'll turn and see your smiling face. Heaven... is a sweeter place. If having you here in my life, is only just a taste... how sweet is Heaven"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Time Last Year, #3

Mom was in the hospital and in and out of consciousness. It was the weekend, and we spent the days and evenings in the waiting room with friends and family. It was actually a really special time in that waiting room. We essentially set up camp. Family was up there 'round the clock. Lynette was great about keepin' us fed. It was nice to have the support from friends and family... some that we hadn't even seen for awhile. Our minister would drop in every night to pray with us. We were in and out of her room. Dad and Daniel were always nearby and cared for her every need. We knew the end was probably near.
I recorded a song for Mom, I recorded it early because I knew I wouldn't be able to make it through after she died. It was the song How Sweet Is Heaven, by Shades of Green.
I brought a cd of the recorded song to the hospital this night one year ago, along with my plates and paints. I told Mom I wanted to get her hand prints and some finger prints to paint some "memory" plates and ornaments for the grandkids. I wanted to be alone with her. Dad made sure noone came in. She was barely responsive. I think she knew what I was doing... she was able to cooperate a little when I was getting her prints. But she didn't say anything. She probably couldn't. Just looked at me. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I cried. I hated that moment, but I love that moment. It was awful, but it was so special. I would never want to do that again, but I so treasure the pieces that I have with her prints on them and I'm so glad I did it. She was my biggest cheerleader when I was starting up my business... who knew I would be getting her own prints and in this situation.

This Saturday, today, one year later, we spent the afternoon at my Dad's house. He had a fish fry, and invited us, Lynette, Heather and her kids, James, David and his family. It kind-of took me back to that weekend of being surrounded by family.
I imagine Thanksgiving will always bring a sting to my heart, but it also fills my heart with love as I think of my Mom and of the family that I have been born into. There are a very few things in this world that tug at my heart in a strong way, and my family is one of them. I do not take for granted that both Alan and I were and are blessed with incredible parents. We love our siblings, and adore our nieces and nephews. Of all the things we have been given in this life, I am most thankful for our family.

One year ago we ended that night in the hospital with playing the song for my Mom. Dad wanted to whole family to crowd in her room (once a proud Dad, always a proud Dad... that's sooo something he and my Mom would always do... and as usual I sat in the back of the crowd, feeling weird as everyone was listening to my voice singing her a song. Oh well).

"I'm not ready to say 'good-bye.' My heart is heavy. My head hurts from the tears I've cried. And though there is a reason - I may never understand - there's one thing I'm sure of... you are home and in His hands."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fabulous Blog Award

My new friend Melissa awarded me with this Fabulous Blog Award! Thanks!

Of course these things come with a few requirements...

I must list 5 of my favorite addictions, and then pass this award along to 5 friends.

1. A fun glass, complete with a crochet coozie, and full to the rim with ice, then a can of Coke (oh no, 2 liter doesn't cut it... it has to be out of a can or a fountain machine. There IS a difference!)

2. Strapping my kids in the carseats and taking a Sunday drive (or whatever day it happens to be) through one of my favorite neighborhoods. Oakridge. The Crossings. Stone Canyon.

3. Blogging and e-mail. I probably check it 30 times a day or more.

4. I'm addicted to making money. Can that be an official addiction? Only, I come up with ways for my friends to create something or make something and sell it. I already have my thing. I love thinking of ways my fellow stay-at-home moms can do like I have done with my plates... something part time while the kids are in school or in bed... plus have that chance to be creative and successful. I'm always thinking of ideas and trying to get a few of my favorite people (you know who you are -wink-wink) to join me in this crazy quest! Maybe I'll write a book!

5. Shopping. Shameless, I know. What can I say? Gotta get out and spend that $ I make with "my thing."

Now I tag:



It is now 2:53am. My friend Stephanie just dropped me off after our 'Twilight' night out. We read the Twilight books and became instant fans. We bought our tickets several weeks ago, and we've been anxiously awaiting the movie premiere. We waited in line for almost 3 hours before the movie started... and that was to ensure a good seat. We already had our tickets.
Was I Dazzled? I'll save the report for later since none of the rest of ya have seen it yet...

ps. the baseball scene was my fav. I knew it would be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Time Last Year, #2

We had our last Thanksgiving meal with all of us together. It was at our home. All of my brothers were here. Me and my sista's-in-law prepared the meal (and Matt too, if I remember right!). Mom sat at the head of the table in our dining room. She ate a few bites, but couldn't keep it down. It was a very bitter/sweet meal. At times I couldn't hardly swallow my food from that lump in my throat. Other times mom was being kind-of silly (usual), and we laughed.
She asked to take a hot bath in my soaker tub. This probably sounds weird, but I was honored that I could draw a bath for her and comfort her in that way. Dad helped her take her bath, and then they went home. She stayed awake and was pretty alert for the couple hours they were here.
The next day is the day we took her to the hospital. This was 6 1/2 days before she died. You can see the range of emotions we were experiencing when looking at the pics.

ps. okay, so it was Alan that helped in the kitchen... Matt was just looming to swipe finger samples of the mashed potatoes ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Okay...enough already!

Well, this time it wasn't the ER... it was the dentist's office. Bryson was zooming down the sidewalk on his scooter trying to catch Selah. He flew over the front of it and landed smack-flat on his face. One of his front top teeth was chipped pretty bad, and of course his face was all scratched up and his lip...owwww... it's huge.
Our neighbor, who is also their dentist, said there wasn't any bad damage to the teeth. He's just really banged up, and he'll be missing 1/2 a tooth 'till it falls out... and then... he'll be missing all of it!
Papa came by tonight and brought him a rootbeer float from Sonic. Daddy came home with the movie Speed Racer. He has actually been pretty lethargic until about 30 minutes ago. He kind-of perked up and drank his float and now he and Alan are finishing the movie.

I think I'm about done with accidents for this year. ENOUGH ALREADY!!

When I took this pic of Bryson, he looked at me and said "I can't smile." Sweet baby boy... I told him he didn't have to smile :(

** side note to other Mommys out there who care for cuts and scratches~ the dentist suggested buying vitamin A capsuls and breaking them open and putting the vitamin A on his scratches until it scabs over. Then Maderma scar cream (or something similar) after that. Any other ideas?


My little Bryson is such a cool kid! I just love him!!!! Today he told me he wanted to "do some school." We haven't really done that since Selah has been at Rejoice, so we grabbed one of her 1st grade workbooks that we were using before she went to school. He was flying through the work pages (have I mentioned that he is reading now?) (uh-oh.. I feel another song coming on... "It's my blog and I can brag if I want to... brag if I want to...brag if I want to... you would brag to, if he belonged to you - doo doo doo doooo doo!) (okay, that was fun). ANYWAY... and he said "Mommy, this page shows a pictue of a trash can but doesn't have the beginning sound letters for me to circle." I said "what does "trash" start with?"
Bryson said "c-h."
"What??? Trash doesn't start with c-h!"

So all this time he has been saying chrash. How funny! I never noticed that before. Say it! It's hard to distinguish the difference between trash and chrash. Little smarty-pants.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This Time Last Year

This time last year we were all together at my Mom and Dad's house. We had just found out my Mom had cancer... pretty much everywhere in her body. It's kind-of strange how the body works... Once we knew for sure it was cancer, it's like her body resolved to the fact, and shut down in a matter of days.
These past few days I've found myself thinking back to exactly where we were and what was happening "one year ago today."
One year ago yesterday everyone in the family came to the house. Mom's parents, sisters and brother, Dad's parents and sisters. Friends. Extended family. Everyone was crying, saying their "good-bye's", "I'm sorrys," "please forgive me for..." and "I love yous." I spent much of that day on the couch watching and listening to all the family and friends come to be with her one last time.
She was forgiving. Loving. Encouraging to everyone. Telling us that "we would be fine, and we would see her again soon."
Her peace is what God had done for her the first time she had cancer. 10 years ago. My 2 youngest brothers were freshman in high school. She prayed that God would heal her... that she would at least be able to see the boys graduate from high school. One year ago, I heard her tell again and again, that "she had prayed for 4 more years and God gave her 9. She wanted to see her boys graduate high school, and she got that plus was able to fall in love with 5 grandkids".
She never once cried. Even when alone with Dad. She was totally at peace. For as long as I can remember she has looked forward to the day she would be in Heaven. I never could relate to that (still can't). I know heaven will be great, and I'm glad that's where I'll be in the end, but I really like my life here on earth. Mom did too, but she loved the Lord so much and truly had a desire to be with Him, and to be in a perfect place.
One year ago today, she started sleeping most of the day. She got up in the morning and ate a few bites of yogurt. Matt and Janice were here, and James and Lydia. The kids all played outside most of the day. Somewhat aware of what was going on, but mostly enjoying playing with cousins at the farm.
Charis was barely 2 years old. Once Mom died, she was my biggest support. Doesn't that sound funny? When I would cry, or be sad, or talk about Mom having died, she would come over and hug me and say "it's okay Mommy... Grandma Vicki's in heaven!" It was simple and sweet and loving.
The other night I was laying in bed with her (that "tucking in" thing again!). We were talking about Mom, and I said "I miss my Mom so much. I wish she was still here." I was about to cry, but my voice had that "crying/sad" sound to it. Charis grabbed me around the neck and burried her face in my neck. She started crying and saying "I'm so sorry Mommy. I'm sorry Mommy. I'm so sorry." OMGosh. Then I really wanted to cry, but since she was so empathetic I needed to comfort her. I reminded her that we would get to see Grandma Vicki again some day. She looked at me with that upside down sad face, and asked me when Grandma was coming down from heaven.
Needless to say, we miss her. We still get sad. We still don't understand it all. God is the peace that passes all understanding.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Road Trip

Today I made a road trip to Kansas City. A sweet lady who is nuts about my plates has been wanting me to go to KC to host a plate party for her. (She has brought her daughter and granddaughter down to my house twice for plates in the past year). I decided I would make the trip and have a party for them. Jodie offered to go along with me for the ride.
It ended up being a fun road trip and a great party! The hostesses were so friendly and their home was warm and inviting. She did a wonderful job entertaining her guests. There were lots of orders and Jodie even helped me with all the paperwork while I was getting the prints and helping the Mom's with their decision making. One family did a 4-generation platter. There was a 4 year old, the mom, the grandma, and the great grandma. One mom brought her 15 month old twins, who were into everything except getting their foot prints =). And of course, Stella (the hostess' 2 year old), who is a princess if I've ever seen one!
The best part was the time spent with Jodie. We chatted the whole way up and back, and ended the evening with a quick dinner and sweet tea from McAlister's Deli.
It was another fun and busy weekend. But I'm glad to be back home with my babe and my babies.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Last night Selah and I were laying in her bed as I was tucking her in (my "tucking them in" lasts about 20 minutes per kid). We were talking and she said "Mommy, you don't spend time with God." It kind-of caught me off guard, and I paused and then said "What do you mean?"
Selah: You don't spend time with God. You just paint plates.
Me: (silent chuckle) What makes you think I don't spend time with God?
Selah: Because I never see you.
Me: (after a short pause... like I've been "caught") Well... you are right, I do need to be spending more time with God. I do spend some time with Him... I pray. We pray together. You know how sometimes in the car I will say things out loud like "thank you Lord for protecting us as we drove through the rain!" or "thank you God for my wonderful sweet babies!" When I say things like that I'm spending time giving thanks to God.
Selah: My teacher told us about how when you love God you spend time reading the Bible and thinking about Him throughout the day."
Me: Yeah, she's right. Thank you for talking to me about this. I needed to be reminded that I need to start reading my Bible more often [and in front of the kids].

So, I've reached another phase in Mommyhood. I've gone from saying and doing as I want, to watching what I say and do in order to be a good example to the kids, to being reminded by my kids that I need to do what I say.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Blog About Blogging

I LOVE this whole blog-o-sphere! I'm just having warm fuzzy feelings about my blog, reading my friends' blogs and keeping up with their lives, etc. Plus, I love my new blog look! (and there are a few more gadgets I want to add... coming soon!).
Gotta go... towel on my wet head, kids jumping on the couch, plate party to pack up for, finish getting ready to meet friends for lunch, platter to ship to Ohio, e-mails to finish, kids to hug. Dad to call (to catch up on his 6-day expedition in the Colorado mountains), dinner to plan for rest of fam while I have a girls night out tonight! It's gonna be a good day. =)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Have You Found Your Marbles?"

This has been the best "game" for me and my kids! Last week we started a Marble Jar. It's totally a reward system, but at this point in my life, I'm okay with that! Throughout the day they can "earn" marbles. They don't get a marble every time they do something exceptional, but at random times I put a marble in the jar to reward extra good behavior or attitudes, helping me around the house, being kind and polite to their siblings, etc. And it has worked wonderfully! One afternoon I walked through the living room and Bryson was folding all the towels and wash rags, without me even asking him to do it. I think I've heard "yes ma'am" more in the last 5 days than in my whole life. And one morning Alan and I woke up to find Selah and Charis in the bathroom, and Selah was helping Charis get her toothbrush ready and they were brushing their teeth (Selah informed us they were trying to earn a marble). I can't tell you how many times they have jumped in to help me unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, pick up toys, etc. without me even asking them for help. It has been GREAT! The house is staying cleaner, and they feel a sense of pride in helping out. They understand that they don't get a marble each time, but they know as a whole helping with family chores and having a positive attitude will earn them some marbles. Once the jar is full, they get a trip to Toys R Us to pick out a toy. And let me tell you, this is a pretty big jar. It will take months to fill. But it will be worth it.
And on the flip side, I take a marble away when they are not acting in a way that is kind, respectful, or obedient. When they throw fits, argue, disobey, or do something mean to each other, I take out a marble. They do not want that to happen, so we have had less arguing and complaining, and the "fits" are much shorter! (yeah!)

I kind-of have issues with the whole "rewards and punishment" philosophy of parenting. Of course I want my kids to do and act in a way that is good because they intrinsically want to! But ya know, they're kids! I don't expect kids to have it all figured out. (I mean, do we as adults really have it all figured out?) My goal and hope is that this will at least prompt them to begin having a desire to help out more (not just with chores, but I'm seeing a difference even in their attitudes), and it is also helping them to exercise self-control when they are upset or angry. So far... so good!

There are only 11 marbles in the jar (did I mention this is a group effort?). We have been doing it for 5 days now. Needless to say, more marbles have been taken out than put in, but once they kind-of get the system down, I'm hoping there will be a nice reward in it for all of us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

10 Year Anniversary Trip

We just spent a few days with our best friends celebrating 10 years of friendship. We became friends with Travis and Jodie when we were first married. In fact, Jodie did my hair for our wedding. Alan and I got married at the Historic Phelps Mansion in Carthage Missouri, and Jodie came to the house to fix my hair on-site. At that point she was just my "really sweet hairdresser," and I didn't even invite her to stay for the wedding (who knew we could become fast friends in the months to come, and stay friends for life, even with the miles between us!). Alan and I got married in May, and she and Travis got married in July. Shortly after the weddings, I was sitting in her chair getting my hair done, and we started talking about our weddings. It was then that we realized how much we had in common, and that we were surely destined to be friends! We both even went to Cannon Beach, Oregon for our honeymoons! I mean, how many people go to Oregon for a honeymoon??? We used the same flowers, similar colors, and on and on it went.
I wasn't blessed with a sister, but God has blessed my life with her.
She and I talk every single day on the phone, and half the time it's until 1:00-2:00 in the morning. I paint, she surfs the net, and we chat away!
I really wish we lived in the same town, but we always attend our kids' birthday parties (that's at least 5 times a year), and we get together as often as we can. This trip was a celebration of our friendship. We went to San Antonio, and we had a blast. The entire trip was fun and relaxing and worth every minute!
"I thank my God every time I remember you."

San Antonio, we come!

We left Wednesday after Alan got off work. I think Travis had already had a few to drink because he was hyped up and cracking us up the whole way! Does Sprite even have caffeine? Oh my gosh, the stories that guy can tell. The rest of could throw in a story or two, but he kept 'em comin' the whole way down. I haven't laughed that hard in 'I dunno know when."
We stayed in a beautiful Bed and Breakfast that overlooked the RiverWalk. Every evening we would walk along the river and find a fun place to eat along the water. We took the boat around the river and learned a bit about the history and architecture of San Antonio. We would go back to the B & B and spend the evenings in our own rooms, Alan and I usually watching a movie in bed (which I LOVE to do, but at home we don't have a TV in our room). The breakfasts were delicious, and we found fun places to eat and shop. Jodie and I spent an afternoon at a day spa, getting facials, massages, and a pedicure, while the guys went to a Brewery and toured the Alamo. It really was a great time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Football Plates

Here are a couple of my newest designs... and I LOVE 'em!!! They are so cute! I'm gonna have to make one with my kiddo's little footprints. Here is a picture of an OU and an OSU platter.